Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
-Henry van Dyke
Most embarrassing moment ever:
When I was teaching in Japan, part of my role was to present an in-school ‘radio’ show, English Time, every Wednesday morning. The Japanese ‘teacher of English’ and I would read stories, run little class competitions and … sing! Singing was a HUGE component of our English lessons at Chikusa Primary School. I knew that my singing voice wasn’t brilliant, but only realised the extent of the awful, awful sound that comes out of my mouth when I was given a recording of our last ‘show’ before I was due to return to Australia. I took it back to my apartment and played it.
Mortified does not even begin to explain how I felt as I listened to that tape.
At school the following day I leant over to another teacher who sat next to me in the office, “Do I really sound that bad when I sing?”
“Oh yes,” she replied, smiling, “It is always so bad.”
Where do you go from there, except to ensure that forevermore I ‘lip sync’ when I have to sing amongst people. I do however, sing loud and proud when, and only when, I am by myself.
So, singing is not a talent I possess … and if I was that bird in the woods, you would be most thankful for my silence.
That does not mean that I am talentless. I have passable skills in a number of areas: drawing, writing, mathematics, physical pursuits that involve strength and mindset.
There is, unfortunately, a human characteristic in most of us that leads us to compare our skill with that of others, and often come out wanting.
I have lost count of the number of times I have given up, or not put myself forward, because although I feel I have the skill or talent to do the role, someone else will be able to do it better.
That is an awful mindset to have … and it has taken me over 40 years to realise this.
I am bidding for writing and editing jobs on Airtasker at the moment. The amount of self-talk that happens before I put the bid in is incredible. I read other people’s bids and immediately think, ‘Oh, I won’t bother, they have more experience than me, so they’ll get the job.‘
Then I have an argument with myself, and put the bid in. I’m getting better at talking myself up in the 50 words we have to sell ourselves. And, I have been allocated several jobs. One job poster gave me the biggest boost when she wrote, ‘I know you’re new to this but I don’t care. Everyone has to start somewhere.’
The only way to get better at something, improve your skill and talent, is to actually practise it.
But, don’t worry, I am under no illusions that my singing will ever improve, so nobody will be subjected to that.